Dom Laurence Shepherd from the historic perspective of the Stanbrook Abbey community

James Laurence Shepherd was born in Liverpool (England) in 1825. Two of his aunts, Dames Mary Teresa and Augustine, were members of the Cambrai community of Benedictines which had been expelled from there in 1793. Both died at Salford Hall Warwickshire, the community's second temporary home before Stanbrook Hall was purchased in 1838.

After being schooled at Ampleforth, James Laurence entered the community there in 1842. In 1845 he was sent for a three year study period to the monastery of San Giovanni at Parma under Abbot Bianchi. 1849 saw his ordination at Ampleforth and three years later he was appointed novice-master.

At Parma Dom Shepherd had first encountered the then recently published 'L'Année Liturgique' of Dom Guéranger but he did not meet the Abbot of Solesmes until 1854, by which time he had himself become sub-prior of Ampleforth. Since his days at Parma he had been aware of the need for a 'return of true Benedictine observance' and he recognised in Abbot Guéranger's famous work, a means of fostering the monastic life and love of the liturgy. Having decided to embark on an English translation he spent time in Bath and then Belmont Abbey before being appointed Vicar (Chaplain) at Stanbrook in 1863. He arrived there on today's date 145 years ago and remained until his death in January 1885, which was itself ten years to the day after Dom Guéranger had gone to his eternal reward.

The nuns write:

"In the seventeenth century the liturgy was lived in all its plendour: the amount of solemnity given to the Divine Office at Cambrai has possibly never been equalled, certainly never surpassed at Stanbrook.........What was in danger of being lost in the nineteenth century was the understanding and appreciation of the prayer of the Church. Benedictines are the traditional custodians of the Church's liturgy, but in the early years (of that century), Benedictinism throughout Europe could hardly claim to be in a very thriving state."

If Stanbrook was to flourish, Dom Laurence judged that two things must happen. First a church must be built appropriate to the dignified celebration of the full choral Divine Office and second, canonical enclosure must be re-instituted. During the next 22 years he worked and fund raised towards these ends. He devoted all the revenue from his translation of 11 volumes of 'L'Année Liturgique' to the church building fund and sacrificing his chaplain's salary, asked only for his fare to Worcester.. "Truly he merits the title of a founder of Stanbrook."

Peter Anson bears witness to Dom Shepherd's spiritual and material contribution to Stanbrook. His arrival at the Abbey resulted in 'a great revival' in its spiritual life; the Church designed by Edward Pugin was consecrated in 1871 and full enclosure was made possible in 1878.

To be continued.

  • "In A Great Tradition: Tribute to Dame Laurentia McLachlan" by the Benedictines of Stanbrook. John Murray 1956;
  • "The Religious Orders and Congregations of Great Britain and Ireland" by Peter Anson. Stanbrook Abbey Worcester 1949
N.B. I did not deliberately choose to publish this post on the anniversary of Dom Shepherd's arrival at Stanbrook. It is another 'confluence' which I am delighted to note. Requiescat in Pace.


First Sunday of Advent

Sunday 30 November 2008

1st Sunday of Advent
1st Class, Violet
No Gloria; Credo; Preface of the Holy Trinity


Excita, quæsumus, Dómine, poténtiam tuam, et veni : ut ab imminéntibus peccatórum nostrórum perículis, te mereámur protegénte éripi, te liberánte salvári : Qui vivis.

Let us pray.

Stir up thy power, O Lord, we beseech thee, and come: that by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins and saved by Thy deliverance.

Who livest and reignest.

This First Sunday of Advent or the Fourth before Christmas, is the first day of the Liturgical year. The Mass prepares us this day for the double coming (advéntus) of mercy and justice. That is what St. Paul tells us, in the Epistle, to cast off sin in order that, being ready for the coming of Christ as our Saviour, we may also be ready for His coming as our Judge, of which we learn in the Gospel. Let us prepare ourselves, by pious aspirations and by the reformation of our life, for this twofold coming. Jesus our Lord will reward those who yearn for Him and await Him: "Those who trust in Him shall not be confounded."

Here is a recording of the Introit for the first Sunday in Advent - Ad te Levavi - from the Tiltenberg Seminary in Holland:


reflection: St Francis Xavier Association)

notes: Season of Advent

Notes for the Liturgy during the Season of Advent

1. On Sundays of Advent, the Gloria is omitted. On ferias when the Mass of the preceding Sunday is said, the Alleluia and its verse are omitted. The faithful should kneel for the Collects and Postcommunion prayers on the ferias of Advent (not, however, on Sundays, feasts days, nor on the Vigil of Christmas).

2. Commemorations of the feria in Advent are privileged and must be made on feasts of Saints at every Mass as well as Lauds and Vespers.

3. On Sundays and ferias of Advent (except the Third Sunday), the altar may not be ornamented with flowers, and the organ is only used to sustain the choir, and only then if necessary.

4. On the Third Sunday of Advent ("Gaudete Sunday"), rose vestments are preferred but violet vestments may be worn. Organ and flowers are permitted.

5. In place of the Preface of the Blessed Trinity on Sunday and the Common Preface on weekdays, the Preface for Advent may be used.

6. From December 17th to December 23rd, inclusive, the Antiphon for the Magnificat at Vespers is one of the "O" Antiphons [see following posts].

7. From Saturday November 29th to February 1st inclusive, the final Antiphon of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Compline is Alma Redemptoris Mater.

(excerpted/adapted from the 2009 Liturgical Ordo, Priestly Fraternity of St Peter)

The Laity and the Divine Office: Link to Jane's Advent book

Towards the end of the Introduction to my first book, (Gardening with God: Light in Darkness, 2002) I wrote the following:

"The benefits to lay people of praying the Office are manifold. It deepens our understanding of daily Mass and brings a myriad of insights, blessings and knowledge; it is the prayer of the Universal Church, and to participate in it shows solidarity with her and increases our sense of membership of the Body of Christ; and it offers us the chance of adding, by supererogation, to the store of merit at the Church's disposal."

When I wrote these words I was not familiar with Dom Guéranger's vision of reclaiming the Liturgy, and in particular the Divine Office, for the laity. Now, rather eerily it feels as if he may have been 'looking over my shoulder'. As Confiteor recently said, 'There are no co-incidences with God'. Several of my spiritual friends have their own terms for such phenomena: 'God's Telepathy'; 'The Divine Jigsaw'; 'God-incidences'; 'Confluences'; and of course Cardinal Newman called them 'God's little providences'. But whatever we call them there is no doubt in my mind that they happen. Too many have occurred in my life, particularly this year, for me to believe otherwise.

Some time ago Mark suggested to me that there may be a way of incorporating relevant extracts from my books into this site as we proceed through the Liturgical Year. I agreed in principle but wasn't sure how this could be done. I now think that the best way is to direct readers to my other 'Gardening with God' blog for extra reading in support of what is here on ITSOA.

To this end I have posted there today, a brief introduction to the inspiration and format of my books and will commence posing relevant extracts as soon as possible. See sidebar for access link. It's also accessible in the same way from my original French Oasis blog.


Notes on the General Preface, pt. vi

Poetry in the Sacred Liturgy

"Poetry is the only language adequate to the sublime thouht which is to be expressed....."

" sings on earth the mysteries of heaven, and prepares us for the canticles of eternity."

Where and what is this poety?

1. In the songs of David and the Prophets which are the foundation of a great part of the Litugy

2. In the Church's own song which she contributes as the seasons turn and turn again.

3. In the diversity of contribution from many different languages

4. From Sedulius and Prudentius to Adam of St.Victor in the west and from St Ephraem to the latest Orthodox hymnologists in the East

5. In the prose which bears the characteristic measure and rhythm of Poetry

Dom Guéranger concludes his General Preface first by commending his task to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and begging that his readers do the same. His final paragraph submits 'L'Anée Liturgique' to "soverign and infallible judgement of the Holy Roman Church, "which alone is the guardian both of the Words of eternal life, and of the secret of Prayer".

Notes on the General Preface, pt. v

Liturgy as Divinely inspired Drama

'Liturgy produces a drama, the sublimest that has ever been offered to the admiiration of man.'

1. It is a constant re-showing of God's unfolding plan for our salvation.

2. Of himself man could never have devised the Liturgy.

3. It repeatedly recognises eternal realities; it is vigourous and endlesss

4. It tirelessly repeats its 'yes' to God.

5. Each year it remembers in sequence every Act of God from the Creation to the sending of the Holy Spirit.

6. It returns us to the beginnings of the Faith, including as it does, chosen Writings of the Apostolic age, Acts of the Martyrs, Decrees of Ancient Councils, Writings of the Fathers.

7. The repetion of this annual Divine Drama does not pall. On the contrary, with every succeeding year, it is ever-new, forceful, enlightening and impressive.

8. This power of renewal is a mystery of the Holy Spirit who constantly breathes life into Liturgy He has inspired.

9. Through this divinely inspired Liturgical drama, man makes holy the hours spent in worship of God, During the year every doctrine, every truth of the Faith is presented with the following results in the soul:

a) knowledge of the Faith increases and with that spiritual life increases and is deepened.
b) faith is illumined; theological understanding begins
c) Contemplation of the Mysteries, whilst they remain as such, become increasing attractive
d) Year by year, the soul makes progress in faith, hope and charity
e) 'the formation of Christ within us' is the result of our uniting with His mysteries.
f) It endows a special grace and 'and the new man gradually grows up'.

10) Human beings need examples and these are given in the lives and writings of the saints.

Notes on the General Preface, pt. iv

DG's stated purpose is to open up the Spirit of the Church to a faithful who have largely lost touch with it. To this end:

1. While noting that there had been, in his own time, an increased devotion both to Our Lord and Our Blessed Lady, he will include the Saints of the Roman Calendar who deserve our respect and reliance.

2. Aside from the Roman liturgy however, judicious reference and quotation will appear from the following liturgies: Ambrosian, Gallican, Mozarabic, Greek, Armenian and Syriac.

3. The plan of each volume will to a cerain extent be dictated by the liturgical content of the season in question. Minute rubrical detail will not be included. The essence of this will be explained by means of a commentary directed specifically at the enlightenment of lay understanding..

4. The volumes will conform to the wishes of the Holy See and refrain from a literal translation of the Ordinary and Canon of the Mass, but will for the laity who have no Latin, make comprehensible the priest's words and actions at the Altar.

Notes on the General Preface, pt. iii

Outline, Nature and purpose of the liturgical calendar

1. The Liturgy has Jesus Christ both as its source and object.

2. It is the Epiphany of Jesus and His mysteries both in the Church at large and in the individual soul.

3. It begins with the Creation, continues in progression with the law of the Patriarchs, from thence to the 'Written Law and is completed under Christ's new Law of love.

4. It will disappear in eternity just as the earlier Law submitted to the power of Christ.

5. The faithful need to understand the great glory that the annual repetiion of the Liturgy, gives to the Blessed Trinity, Mary, the Angels and Saints.

The effects of this annual Liturgical cycle:

1. The Church is repeatedly renewed in youthfulness

2. She is visited constantly by Jesus her Lord who furnishes all her needs

3 Annually she follows the mysteries of His life, the institution of the Sacraments, his Passion, death, resurrection, Ascension and his sending of the Holy Spirit.

4. Every year she receives a renewal of graces, the fruits of which she constantly offers to her Lord, who has through his Holy Spirit, so inspired her.

5. Each year God repossesses His Church and repeats His illumining and loving gifts to her.

3. In each unfolding season, the Church benefits from the motherly concern of the Blessed Virgin

4. Each year she is consoled and strengthened by Angels and the Communion of Saints.

5. All this is done for the individuals within her, as well as for the Church as a whole.

6. The cyclic nature of the Liturgy gives supernatural life, without which the individuali soul begins to see that human existence without it, is in fact death.

Warning to the Faithful:

Do not be influenced by the spirit of coldness in faith or love which has resulted in the Sacred Liturgy being treated with indifference, when it should truly be a treasure for all the faithful, whether they be erudite or lowly in learning.

Dom Gueranger's objectives in writing 'The Liturgical year:

He wishes to 'serve as interpreter within the Church' and therefore to facilitate access to the Sacred Liturgy, by all the faithful. By no means does he intend to put his own thoughts on a par with those of Jesus Christ. All he intends is to demonstrate the varying influences on the Liturgy by the Holy Spirit as the yearly cycle unfolds. To these ends he will employ study of the Fathers and the most ancient liturgists.

Notes on the General Preface, pt. ii

Role of the Monasteries up to the Reformation

In spite of the decline in lay participation the Monasteries kept up an unbroken offering of the Church's prayer and the faithful Catholic regarded them as their honoured delegates before God, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints. The Liturgy belonged to all and the laity were still united in spirit, even if their actual presencewas occasional. All understood the Liturgy at least generally if not intimately.

From the Reformation to the 19th Century (D.G.'s own age)

1. The deleterious effects of the Reformation on the Monasteries included a weakening of the voice of prayer, and therefore of faith itself.

2. After the Reformation several still Catholic countries were "infected with that spirit of Pride which is the enemy of prayer.

3. By DG's time social order was threatened with subversion.

4. The attitude had taken hold that Prayer is not action. DG maintains that all action is a 'two-fold gift' which indicates two prayers, one that the action may be done and another of thanksgiving when it is done.

5. He suggests that the prayer of the remnant who had continued the Divine liturgy up to his own time, is being rewarded by an increase in conversions and new religious orders.

6. He prays that the Cathedrals may restore the full liturgy and a return to belief in the power of prayer, even by secular authorities.

7. The faithful are exhorted to engage with the Sacred Liturgy either in practice or spirit and to seek the spirit of prayer from the Church, its natural source.

8. The many prayer manuals produced during the two centuries prior to DG's time tended to isolate the practitioner rather than drawing him into the Prayer of the Church.

9. DG counters the objection that to reduce pious books to commentary on the Liturgy and its proper conduct, runs the risk of quenching the Holy Spirit's contemplative gifts to the individual. What else, he asks, other than constant nourishment with the food of the Divine Offices, enabled the Doctors and Fathers to leave us their own wonderful treasury.

10. The Sacred Liturgy refreshes and inspires a thirst for prayer. There is no danger of the contemplatively inspired being distracted by the 'pomp anhd harmony of the Chants of liturgical prayer. David himself had recouse to his harp.

"....for contemplative souls, Liturgical Prayer is both the principle and the consequence of the visits they have received from God."

11. The post-Reformation lack of deep religious fervour and grace is rooted in the Protestant denial of the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Prayer of the Church is centred around the Eucharistic Presence of Christ. When faith in that Real Presence is lost, the Sacred Liturgy ceases, in fact it could not be otherwise.

Notes on the General Preface

(we now present some notes on the General Preface to Dom Guéranger's Liturgical Year)

Preparatory to his magnum opus Dom Guéranger starts from the first principle that prayer is our greatest blessing and gives us the historical, biblical, Messianic roots of the Liturgy, the Prayer of the Church.

1. Of ourselves we cannot pray.

2. Following the example of the Apostles, we ask the Lord to teach us how to pray.

3. He taught them through giving the Lord's prayer but ever after that sent the Holy Spirit as our Teacher. The Spirit dwells in the Church and prompts her uninterruped prayer which is always in the ear of Jesu and 'welcome in His heart'.

4. The Spirit leads her to frame her prayer in three ways:
a) through the prophets and psalmist of the Old Testament
b) through her close relation to the writings of the Apostles in the New Testament
c) sonetimes through inspiring her to sing her own new song

5. From these three main sources comes the Sacred Liturgy of the Church.

Next Dom Guéranger (hereinafter cited as DG) stresses the efficacy of praying with the Churchand then traces the history of her Prayer from the earliest centuries down to his own times (i.e. mid-19th century):

For nearly a millennium, DG states, the laity assisted at the Sacred Liturgy and were thus initiated into the mysteries of her annual cycle. Prayer with the Church enlightened their understanding and showed God's love. The souls who prayed in this way were in company with and therefore a part of the Spouse of Christ who speaks and sings to God as David did. The Church's prayer blends with that of the Angels.

(Then DG quotes the first verse of Psalm 137 from which the title of our present endeavour is taken:

"I will praise thee O Lord, with my whole heart: for thous hast heard the words of my mouth. I will sing praise to thee in the sight of the angels." (Douay/Rheims translation from the Latin Vulgate 1582)

Even before the 16th century people had gegun to be more material things and the solemnity of the Liturgy had been diluted, and the number of days on which the people united with it reduced to Sundays and Festivals. Successive generations drifted furhter away from the source of spititual food that had sustained their ancestors and prayer in communion with the Church was increasingly replace by solitary devotion. Moreover encounter with the Chant was reduced to Solemn Feasts. This represented the first 'sad revolution'.

"L'Année Liturgique" by Dom Prosper Guéranger, OSB

Cardinal Manning opens his introduction to Dom Guéranger's "L'Anée Liturgique" with an acknowledgment of the spiritually justified fame, both in France and England, of Dom Guéranger, the Abbot of Solesmes. The volumes in question make available in English, a work which 'is truly Benedictine in aim and spirit'. His Eminence then makes a comparison between the Dominicans and the Benedictines. The former, he says, have been scientific theologians and are called to 'cry aloud in the streets as preachers'. The latter have a 'more tranquil mission within the walls of the sanctuary and on the steps of the altar'. 'The Liturgical Year' is the fruit of the fruit of this distinctive vocation.

The work is an extended meditation on the the Liturgy that has developed around the Presence of Christ. The Calendar of the Church shows us daily, 'the supreme worship of the ever blessed Trinity, in the communion of the Saints'. Through it we catch a glimpse of Heaven and Dom Guéranger has given wonderful help to those who love 'this prelude of a better world'. The Cardinal concludes in admiration of the beauty of Dom Gueranger's spiritual commentary and in appreciation of Dom Shepherd's careful and patient work of translation.

St Augustine on Psalm 95

Advent is most frequently seen as a time of hopeful expectation of Our Lord's coming as the Infant in the Manger. Whilst it has a penitential aspect, we sometimes overlook its deep links to eschatology and end-things. In a Podcast from last Sunday, Fr John Zuhlsdorf, of What Does the Prayer Really Say? explains St Augustine's views on the subject, particularly in his commentary on Psalm 95:-

Our frequent guest St. Augustine of Hippo (+430) drills into a couple verses of Ps. 95(96) in his Enarrationes in psalmos 95, an excerpt of which is in in the Office of Readings in the Liturgia horarum for this 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time in the newer calendar.

We are moving quickly to the end of the liturgical year. Therefore Holy Church is more and more focusing our attention on the Four Last Things, death, judgment, heaven and hell.

I don’t want to go to Hell for eternity. Do you?

Augustine and I give you some tips on how to avoid that nasty end.

Folks, we are going to die and be judged, the Lord will come again, whether we ask Him to or not.

His mercy is ours for the asking.

Click on the link to go and listen to the Podcast:-

On the Liturgical Cycle

from "The Soul of the Apostolate"
by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard

Each one of the sacred rites may be compared to a precious stone. Yet how much greater will be the value and brilliance of those that belong to the Mass and Office, when I know how to enshrine them all together in that marvelous setting: the liturgical cycle.(1)

When my soul lives, throughout a certain period of time, under the influence of a mystery, and is nourished by all that Scripture and tradition offer that is most instructive in this subject, and is constantly directed and made attentive to the same order of ideas, it must necessarily be influenced by this concentration, and find in the thoughts suggested by the Church a food as nourishing as it is delightful, and which will prepare it to receive that special grace which God reserves for each period, each Feast of the Cycle.

The Mystery comes to fill me not only as an abstract truth, absorbed in meditation, but gripping my whole being, bringing into play even my sense faculties, to stir up my heart and direct my will. It is more than a mere commemoration of some past event, or an ordinary anniversary: it is living actuality with all the character of a present event to which the Church gives an application here and now, and in which she really and truly takes part.

For instance, in the Christmas season, rejoicing before the Altar at the coming of the Holy Child, my soul can repeat: "Today Christ is born, today the Saviour has appeared, today the angels sing on earth...(2)"

At each period in the liturgical Cycle, my Missal and Breviary disclose to me new rays of the love of Him Who is for us at the same time Teacher, Doctor, Consoler, Saviour, and Friend. On the Altar, just as at Bethelehem or Nazareth, or on the shore of the Lake of Tiberias, Jesus reveals Himself as Light, Love, Kindness and Mercy. He reveals Himself above all as Love personified, because He is Suffering personified, in agony at Gesthemani, atoning on Calvary.

And so the liturgical life gives the Eucharistic life its full development. And Your Incarnation, O Jesus, that brought God close to us, making Him visible to us in You, continues to do the very same thing for us all, in each of the mysteries that we celebrate.

So it is, dear Lord, that thanks to the Liturgy, I can share in the Church's life and in Your own. With her, every year, I witness the mysteries of Your Hidden life, Your Public life, Life of Suffering, and Life in Glory; and with her, I cull the fruits of them all. Besides, the periodic feasts of Our Lady and the Saints who have best imitated Your interior Life bring me, also, an increase of light and strength by placing their example before my eyes, helping me to reproduce Your virtues in myself and to inspire the faithful with the spirit of Your Gospel.

How am I to carry out, in my apostolate, the desire of Pius X? How are the faithful going to be helped, by me, to enter into an active participation in the Holy Mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church(3) which the Pope called the Prime and Indispensable Source of the true Christian spirit, if I myself pass by the treasures of the Liturgy without even suspecting what wonders are to be found therein?

If I am going to put more unit into my spiritual life, and unite myself still more to the life of the Church, I will aim at tying up all my other pious exercises with the Liturgy, as far as I possibly can. For instance, I will give preference to a subject for meditation which has a connection with the liturgical period, or feast, or cycle. In my visits to the Blessed Sacrament, I will converse more readily, according to the season, with the Child Jesus, Jesus suffering, Jesus glorified, Jesus living in His Church, and so on. Private reading on the Mystery or on the life of the Saint being honored at the time will also contribute much to this plan for a liturgical spirituality.

(1) - The Church, inspired by God and instructed by the Holy Apostles, has disposed the year in such a way that we may find in it, together with the life, the mysteries, the preaching and doctrine of Jesus Christ, the true fruit of all these in the admirable virtues of His servants and the examples of His saints, and, finally, a mysterious compendium of the Old and New Testaments and of the whole of Ecclesiastical History. And thus, all the seasons are full of rich fruits for a Christian; all are full of Jesus Christ. In this variety, which all together leads up to that single unity recommended by Christ, the clean and pious soul will find, together with celestial pleasures, solid nourishment, and an everlasting renewal of fervour.
(Bossuet: Funeral Sermon on Maria Theresia of Austria.)

(2) - Hodie Christus natus est, hodie Salvator apparuit, hodie in terra canunt angelis... (Office of Christmas)

(3) - In the very first year of his pontificate, on November 22, 1903, Pius X issued his celebrated motu proprio on Sacred Music, here quoted by Dom Chautard. The passage in full, runs:
"We believe it is our first duty to raise our voice, without further delay, to reprove and condemn everything, which in the functions of the cult and the celebrations of the office of the Church, departs from the right rule which has been laid down. For it is, in fact, our keen desire that the true Christian spirit may once more flourish, cost what it may, and be maintained among all the faithful: and to that end it is necessary to provide, above all, that everything be holy and dignified in the Church where the faithful father together to draw this spirit from its prime and indispensable source: the active participation in the sacrosanct mysteries and the public and solemn Prayer of the Church. For it is vain for us to hope to bring down upon ourselves, to this end, the abundance of the blessings of heaven if our homage to the Most High, instead of rising in an odour of sweetness, on the contrary places in the hand of the Lord the scourge with which our Divine Redeemer once chased the vile profaners from the Temple."
Copyright © 1946, Abbey of Gesthemani Inc., Trappist, Kentucky

About this Site

The purpose of this website is to offer a continuing journey through the liturgical year in the spirit of Dom Prosper Guéranger, the great Benedictine abbot of Solesmes, and author of the magnum opus "The Liturgical Year". Dom Guéranger founded Solesmes Abbey and the French Benedictine Congregation; he was well regarded by Pope Pius IX, and was a proponent of the dogmas of papal infallibility and the Immaculate Conception. Dom Guéranger is credited with reviving the Benedictine Order in France, and revitalising the Tridentine Mass.

With his work as inspiration, the authors hope to offer material for the major feastdays of the Roman calendar, as well as insights from Dom Guéranger and other authors on the liturgical year. We hope to describe the liturgy of the Catholic Church throughout the liturgical year, including the Mass and the Divine Office. It is also hoped to feature biographies of saints and their liturgies on their feast days.

This site will focus on the 1st and 2nd class feasts of the Roman liturgical calendar according to the Missale Romanum of 1962. The Collect will be given in both Latin and English and relevant links, commentaries, and other material. Where possible acknowledgement will be given for source works. Every effort will be made to rely on public domain works; where this is not possible a précis will be made of the relevant sections of "The Liturgical Year". The authors crave the indulgence of any persons whose copyright may have been unwittingly infringed.

Posting on particular liturgical days will commence on Advent Sunday 2008 (Sunday 30 November), with posts being made 24 hours, or thereabouts, in advance to account for time zone differences. Until then we will feature a précis of the General Preface to "The Liturgical Year" and some other short pieces.

Your suggestions, comments, and continued prayers are ever welcome and sought.

About the authors

This website is run by Jane and Mark.

Jane is a retired teacher of English Literature and lives in south west France with her husband, 4 cats and her library of 4,300 titles. She is devoted to all things Gregorian and Benedictine (in the historic and current sense of these words). A lay disciple of the Rule of St. Benedict since the 1970s, she has been following it more closely over the past decade. Her library catalogue includes 117 items on Chant, 32 of which are books on its history, theory and performance. The collection reflects her passion for the music which should accompany the Prayer of the Church.

The seeds of this passion germinated over 50 years ago and flourished during her 25 year membership of a well-known London Catholic church choir. Jane's other passion is her Prayer Garden: her three books of meditations (Continuum International) were inspired by her long experience of prayer and gardening as mutually supportive. They reflect her Benedictine spirituality and indeed were encouraged by a correspondence with the late Dame Felicitas Corrigan O.S.B. of Stanbrook Abbey, herself an organist and scholar of the Chant. (Requiescat in Pace)

Mark is a 20-something layman living and working in Edinburgh, Scotland. During the day he works for the Police, specialising in recorded Crime statistics, whilst attempting to live out the balance between the contemplative and active life in the spirit of Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard.

A Trappist, born in 1858, Chautard makes the strong case that the exterior works of evangelisation must rely and be built on an inner life of union with God. In his famous work "The Soul of the Apostolate", Chautard uses an abundance of scripture quotes, anecdotes, and examples from lives of the Saints, to show how it is possible to preach the Gospel and save one's own soul, by becoming real men of interior life. He gives powerful arguments to back up this point and proves how interior life is not lazy, selfish or detrimental to a truly fruitful apostolate done for the salvation of souls.

A convert from "High Church" Anglicanism, Mark has developed a love for the extraordinary forms of the Mass and the Divine Office. With a side interest in webdesign and "new media", Mark hopes this liturgical offering will be both a fitting gift for the Church and a full introduction to the lectionary of the 1962 Missal, whilst edifying the authors. Mark hopes to successfully apply to a traditional Seminary in Europe in 2009.